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CD REVIEW: Power of County - See You In Rock and Roll Heaven
By Chip Withrow - 09/13/2008 - 05:47 PM EDT

Artist: Band: Power of County
Album: See You In Rock and Roll Heaven
Label: Union Records
Genre: Americana
Sounds Like: Gram Parsons, Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Ballad of Charlie Sad, Love Me In Chains, Father Mother Son, Silver and Gold
CD Review: When I was a kid, I discovered a stack of my dad’s country/western albums. The two dudes who fascinated me the most were Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Thirty years later, I’m still hooked on outlaw country, and that’s one reason – but not nearly the only one – I dig Power of County’s See You In Rock and Roll Heaven so much. It’s a vibrant blend of traditional country and rockabilly cut with punk swagger and sepia-toned backwoods twang, and it would be on my jukebox if I owned a tavern.

“Ain’t Going Back to Jail,” “Love Machine,” and “Love Me In Chains” rock so hard they seem almost on the verge of spinning out of control. I’m reminded of the Pogues, but the Power of County guys are much hotter instrumentalists – bluegrass picking meets metallic thrash. For instance, check out Erik Clampett’s deft pedal steel on “Chains.”

Any time I hear shades of Gram Parsons or the Stones’ ironic take on country, I get excited, and that’s what I get from “The Ballad of Charlie Sad” and “Nothing To Prove.” On “Prove,” D. Rives Curtwright nails his guitar spots (he fires off acoustic and electric riffs throughout the disc), and the vocal harmonizing is raggedly sweet. “Father Mother Son” is a pretty, gritty drinking tale in a similar vein.

“Different Seeds” moves between the sinister, old-timey blues feel of Bob Dylan’s recent efforts and urgent minor-key rock and roll, with a nifty jam at the end. The album’s raucous closer, the stomping “Silver and Gold,” reminds me of Dylan’s classic bandmates The Band.

I’ll close by paying one of my highest compliments: I really want to see and hear these guys perform – See You In Rock and Roll Heaven has a live, crisp, immediate feel to it. I can just picture these guys strolling onstage, plugging in, and ripping through the instrumental “Trashville Rag” to get the crowd fired up, with Dad Thad Stark’s piano solo getting a huge roar. So if I ever get that tavern, Power of County is welcome to play there any time.

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